The report outlines how both Nato and Russia have primed their forces to respond to an escalation since the Ukraine crisis erupted in early 2014.
The preparations include major military exercises by both Russia and Nato that appear designed exclusively to respond to one another’s capabilities and potential war plans.
”Whilst spokespeople may maintain that these operations are targeted against only hypothetical opponents, the nature and scale of the operations indicate otherwise,” the report writers say.
In March 2015, Russian conducted “snap exercises” that saw 80,000 troops engaged in long-range deployments and simulate combat on a scale that made the United States or Nato the only possibly adversary.
Nato’s exercise “Allied Shield,” in June this year, saw 15,000 allied troops engaged in a series of mock operations including response to a Crimea-style infiltration of irregular forces.
In both cases, the report writers find, the exercises focused on what the two sides perceive to be their most vulnerable areas, with and Nato moving to defend the Baltic States and Russia rushing reinforcements to the Arctic, its Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad, occupied Crimea, and Sakhalin island in the far east.
Allied Shield also included the first deployment of the Very High Readiness Taskforce, a rapid-reaction unit established at the Nato summit in Wales in 2014 in response to the annexation of Crimea.